My Career as a Director

July 25, 2007 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

Bob Hicok

Listen

It’s the last moment of night in the theatre.
The names of the best boy and key grip
are floating towards heaven. The movie
was about the paralyzing sadness of death
and the last movie I saw in this theater
with my feet up on the balcony
was about the paralyzing sadness of death
but the name Albert Albertson is funny.

His job was to shout, “Quiet on the set”
when the actors were about to be sad
or die. And the director’s job was to ask
if the actors could be sadder, if they could die
better. And the makeup crew
drank together in parking lots and hotel rooms,
always looking at the sky or the bedspreads
for the true colors of sadness, the spooky hues
of death. If the last two movies I’ve seen

had babies together, I’d pay to meet
their offspring in this theater from the 1940s,
recently restored and staffed by volunteers
who enjoy Portugese films about the struggle
to eat good food and Norwegian films
about the agonizingly beautiful noses
of Norwegians. The firstborn
would be an achiever of sadness,
the dead people would die again
so they could be mourned again by the long shot
of birds swirling at sunset like scatter
is what becomes of us. The second born

would be shy and have water in every scene
and at least one actor would smile
and a bicycle would lean against the wall
of the cottage, where after three bottles
of wine, the four couples who’ve come
from the city for a week of the dishes
being magically done after their feasts
and the beds being magically made
after their partner-swapping sex, discuss
the paralyzing sadness of death while a fire
suggests that the cycle of life is beautiful
though not energy efficient. In the third,

a man would read a letter twenty years
after it was written by his mother
about the day they played in the sandbox.
She described how sunlight was trapped
in his hair and that he leaned back
and kissed her shin and how after they buried
his green soldiers to their heads,
they pulled them out and set them free
on the sea of the birdbath. She wrote
the letter just after they played
while looking out the window at another woman
tying the shoe of a little girl, we would see her

at her desk in a flashback after everyone
who would die in the movie has died,
after everyone who would scream has screamed,
after the cup that would look glorious
and symbolic has looked gloriously symbolic,
has glowed on the counter like it can never fade,
though behind and around it everything does.
When he folds the letter and puts it back

in the envelope and comes down from the attic
and touches the hair of a woman who is sleeping
on the couch and carrying how close we come
to being eternal in her womb, the movie will end
with the opening of her eyes, eyes that were cast
because they are brown like the richest soil

and I will sit in the dark while the names
ascend, the sadness of the movie feeling false
because there’s so much of it until the lights
come on and people feed their arms to the appetite
of their coats and faces flow back into skin
and minds return to bodies and bodies recall
how brief they are and I will live in my creaking
seat until the screen catches fire again.

We’ve never run any Hicok on Poi-tre before, which is a shame because he’s one of the funniest and most inventive poets writing today.

‘My Career as a Director’ is classic Hicok. It’s casually conversational, it wanders here and there, skipping lightly from one idea to another, it’s deliciously funny in bits, but also, in a slapdash way, beautiful and somehow genuine. It’s like listening to someone who isn’t trying to be clever, but is, effortlessly. And I love the ease with which Hicok evokes these imaginary films of his, the movies themselves seeming so real that you feel certain that you’ve seen them, or something very like them, but can’t remember what.

[falstaff]

Entry filed under: Bob Hicok, English, Falstaff, Poems about Movies. Tags: .

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